A man in Florida who suffers from brain damage due to an accident caused by a drunk driver was awarded $5 million as settlement in his personal injury claim. In 2007 Dwight Grant, a passenger in a stopped vehicle, was hit by Matthew Lyons who was being pursued by the police. After Lyons hit the car that Grant was in, Lyons left the scene.
Grant received fractures to his skull and face. This hit and run collision resulted in Grant’s traumatic brain injury to his frontal lobe. Grant requires constant care due to the seizure disorder he now suffers from.
Defense counsel for Lyons claimed that Grant was not diligent in his rehabilitation or in taking his medication and that this intensified his condition. The jury found Grant 2% liable for his condition and this reduced his initial $15.4 million award. The case eventually settled for $5 million.
Drunk Drivers and Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Although drunk drivers are sometimes punished through substantial court awards, more often than not those awards are unpaid. Many people carry minimum insurance policy limits. In fact in many jurisdictions, motorists are not even required to have insurance coverage. For instance in the state of Virginia, insurance coverage for an automobile is not required. If however you do not have insurance coverage then you are required to pay an uninsured motorist fee.
That results in a number of motorists on the road simply being uninsured. If you have the misfortune of being struck by a drunk driver who is also uninsured, then your recovery is limited to whatever may be your uninsured motorist coverage. In many liability policies there is coverage for what is called an uninsured motorist. If you are struck by a motorist who is uninsured, then your uninsured motorist coverage may apply. You may be able to recover up to whatever your uninsured motorist limits are.The oddity of an uninsured motorist claim is that it puts you adverse to your own insurance company. That is you are seeking to recover money based upon the conduct of a third party. The entity however that is going to be paying you for that misconduct of the third party is your own insurance company. The purpose of course of uninsured motorist coverage is to provide you (the insured) a source of recovery in the event that at-fault motorist does not have adequate coverage.
Drunk Driving Accident May Entitle You To Punitive Damages.
Drunk driving accident litigation can involve both claims for compensatory damages and punitive damages. Across the country thousands of people die every year because of alcohol related automobile accidents. In Virginia almost a third of all traffic fatalities are alcohol related as reported by accident lawyer Brien Roche.
Typically, you are only entitled to what are called “compensatory damages” as a result of a tort injury. If the party causing the injury was a drunk driver, then you may be entitled to punitive damages. Punitive damages go beyond compensatory damages and are designed to punish the wrongdoer for that person’s conduct.
In Virginia if the drunk driver has a blood alcohol content that exceeds .15 and at the time of the accident that driver knew or should have known that his ability to operate the vehicle was impaired or would be impaired if he became intoxicated and indeed that driver’s intoxication then caused injury to you then you may be entitled to punitive damages. Even if you do not have a claim for punitive damages you still have a claim for compensatory damages, i.e. to compensate you fully and fairly for your injuries.
In an effort to combat drunk driving in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Governor Terry McAuliffe introduced the Virginia Faces of Drunk Driving website. McAuliffe dedicated the Tumblr site to the people whose lives were ended by drunk drivers and also to those who have been left behind.
Drunk Driving Fatalities
Drunk driving fatalities in 2013 increased for the first time in six years in the Commonwealth.
The Virginia Faces of Drunk Driving profiles those victims showing them in happier times prior to their deaths accompanied by stories about the victims written by their loved ones who survived. The goal behind Virginia Faces of Drunk Driving is to deter future drunk drivers from even getting on the road.
As McAuliffe said, “Given that drunk driving is a 100% preventable crime, even one death is too many.” “I am committed to reducing drunk driving fatalities by continuing our Commonwealth’s enforcement efforts, and raising awareness with Virginians that we all have a responsibility to keep our Commonwealth safe. With this new site providing intimate portrayals of individuals lost to drunk driving and the tragic burden it places on survivors, or aim is to save lives and stop drunk driving before it starts.”
Incredibly approximately two Virginians die every three days on average due to drunk drivers and in 2013, 253 Virginians were killed in traffic crashes that were related to alcohol use. That was an increase of nearly 10.5% in 2013 compared to the prior five years that had shown declines in deaths due to drunk driving.
Drunk Driving Srikeforce
In 2002 Virginia began Checkpoint Strikeforce which was designed to get drunk drivers off the roadways using checkpoints, patrols and education about the dangers and fallout of drunk driving. While Virginia’s goal is to target all potential drunk drivers, the campaign specifically focuses on males aged 21 to 35. This demographic represents an estimated 1/3 of all Virginians killed in alcohol-related crashes last year.
Alcohol detectors are now sophisticated enough that they can actually detect the presence of alcohol in a person’s body when that person gets behind the wheel of a car. This is technology that has been developed in the last several years as a result of the interest in sniffing out terrorist bombs. Auto manufacturers and federal safety regulators are currently producing such a sensing device that would keep a vehicle from starting if the driver had too much alcohol in his or her system.Many jurisdictions now require the installation of an ignition interlock system for people who have been convicted of DWI/DUI. In Virginia where there is a mandatory one year loss of license with the right to have a restricted license, the ignition interlock is a condition to getting the restricted license.
Alcohol was a factor in over 10,000 highway deaths in the year 2009. In the past 20 years it has accounted for over a quarter million deaths. In recent surveys approximately 10% of the people in the United States have admitted to being drunk behind the wheel during the one year period prior to the survey.
With this new technology the sensing device could be set at the prohibited level of alcohol content and if the driver was at or above that level then the driver would not be able to start the vehicle.